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OA and risk factors

November 21, 2012

Risk factors for osteoarthritis.

 

A risk factor is a description of a characteristic of a group that is prone to a particular disease or disorder.  Having one or more risk factors does not guarantee the presence of the disease, and their absence does not ensure good health.  The identification of risk factors is important because it can identify traits or groups of individuals that are at elevated risk, and so require more frequent and more thorough examination.

Women and the elderly are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.  Other well known risk factors include poor diet, inactivity, prior joint injury, and a family history of osteoarthritis. Recent research by a Harvard Medical School professor, Dr. Losina, suggests that ethnicity may also be related to osteoarthritis risk.  Dr. Losina found that female minorities were at higher risk for osteoarthritis than caucasian females.  Further, female minorities with osteoarthritis were more likely to need joint replacement surgery.

These are not absolutes.  Many individuals with all risk factors never develop osteoarthritis.  There are many risk factors that are beyond your control, like age, ethnicity, family history, and gender.  But if you are at elevated risk of developing osteoarthritis because of poor nutrition or lack of exercise, it’s time to change your habits.  It might even save you from surgery.



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